Meet the Canada Reads 2016 contenders

On the 15th edition of CBC's annual battle of the books, five Canadian panellists with very different backgrounds - and a shared fighting spirit - will champion novels that offer different takes on the same theme: starting over. The Canada Reads 2016 books are all about transformation and second chances, including stories of migrants, immigrants and others who are choosing - or forced - to make major changes in their lives.

The 2016 contenders are:

This year, Canada Reads will feature a social media panellist, Azita Ardakani. Azita Ardakani founded Lovesocial, a social media company with the mandate of "connecting people with things that matter," in 2008. Azita will read the books with the rest of Canada and lead the conversation online. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The publisher of the book that wins Canada Reads 2016 will make a financial donation to Frontier College's Aboriginal Summer Literacy Camps for First Nation, M├ętis and Inuit children across Canada, which help address the educational needs of children in remote communities during the summer months.

The books are available to Canadians with print disabilities in public libraries, through the National Network for Equitable Library Service and the Centre for Equitable Library Access.

The debates will take place on March 21-24, 2016. If you are interested in attending the debates live, head to EventBrite for more information.

Bruce Poon Tip defends Birdie by Tracey Lindberg


Bruce Poon Tip is the founder of G Adventures, the largest travel adventure company in the world. A bestselling author and frequent public speaker, he has spoken at TED conferences and at the United Nations.

Birdie is a darkly comic novel that follows a Cree woman as she leaves her northern Alberta home on an adventure that forces her to revisit tragedy in her past.

Tracey Lindberg is a professor of law and an indigenous rights activist. Birdie is her first novel.

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Farah Mohamed defends Bone and Bread by Saleema Nawaz


Farah Mohamed is the founder and CEO of G(irls)20, a global platform that empowers girls and women around the world.

Bone and Bread is a poignant and complex portrait of two sisters who struggle with their cultural identity when they are orphaned as teens and raised by their traditional Sikh uncle.

Saleema Nawaz was born and raised in Ottawa, and currently lives in Montreal. Bone and Bread is her debut novel.

Clara Hughes defends The Illegal by Lawrence Hill


Clara Hughes is a six-time Olympic medallist. She is also the spokesperson for the Bell Let's Talk initiative, which fights the stigma associated with mental illness.

In The Illegal, a runner flees his homeland in hopes of starting over in a new country. But when his plans fall through, he must run for his life in this compelling take on the plight of undocumented immigrants everywhere.

Lawrence Hill is the award-winning and internationally bestselling author of The Book of Negroes, which won Canada Reads in 2009.

Adam "Edge" Copeland defends Minister Without Portfolio by Michael Winter


Adam "Edge" Copeland is an actor and retired professional wrestler. He holds 31 WWE championships and is the author of a bestselling autobiography.

Longlisted for the 2013 Scotiabank Giller Prize, Minister Without Portfolio is an affecting portrait of a man who uproots his life while trying to recover from a difficult breakup.

Michael Winter is the award-winning author of five novels, three collections of short stories and one nonfiction book.

Vinay Virmani defends The Hero's Walk by Anita Rau Badami


Vinay Virmani is the writer and star of the 2014 hit film Dr. Cabbie. He lives in Toronto.

Set in a small town in India, The Hero's Walk is a lush, intimate look at a troubled family. When his daughter and her husband are killed in a car crash, an Indian man must take in a seven-year-old Canadian granddaughter he has never met.

Anita Rau Badami is a writer and visual artist living in Montreal. The Hero's Walk, her second novel, won numerous awards and garnered international attention.

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